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[A] = summary lessons
[B] = exegetical analysis
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What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
1 John 2:12 by Robert Dean
Series:1st John (2000)
Duration:1 hr 8 mins 31 secs

Forgiveness; Grace Motivation; 1 John 2:12

Forgiveness is an important word, aphiemi [a)fihmi] is used many times in the New Testament, but a more significant word is the word "cleansing." In Numbers chapter eight we are given the details related to the setting apart—Hebrew qadash, the word for holy, sanctification—for the service of God. When they began to appoint and anoint the Levites for their service, v. 6 NASB "Take the Levites from among the sons of Israel and cleanse them. [7] Thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: {sprinkle} purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body and wash their clothes, and they will be clean." Notice that the issue is cleansing. That is the issue in our lives, we need to be cleansed from sin. This is the same thing as pictured in the initial washing of the high priest. [8] "Then let them take a bull with its grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil; and a second bull you shall take for a sin offering." There is the sin offering, the basis for the cleansing. The washing is based on the fact that there is a sacrifice. In the New Testament we realise that the two come together in Christ. Christ paid the penalty and He is the sacrifice and in faith alone in Christ alone there is cleansing. There are two different kinds of cleansing, full washing and partial washing. Numbers 8:15 NASB "Then after that the Levites may go in to serve the tent of meeting. But you shall cleanse them and present them as a wave offering." So there is the emphasis on washing and cleansing for the Levitical priests.

In Isaiah chapter one Isaiah is writing in the 7th century BC at a time when Israel has succumbed to idolatry and apostasy, and there are very few in the nation who are saved. God is bringing an indictment against Israel. Note: 1:2 NASB "Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, "Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. [3] An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master's manger, {But} Israel does not know, My people do not understand." They are ignorant of doctrine and have rejected the Old Testament version of salvation which was faith in the coming of the Messiah. [4] "Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him." There is a threefold indictment: they have abandoned, they have despised, and have turned away; they are not saved. 

Isaiah 1:16 NASB "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean…" The LXX uses the word louw for wash, not niptw, indicating that they understood the issue to be salvation. This is a cleansing that takes place at the instant of salvation.   "…Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil."

Isaiah 1:18 NASB "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool." This is what happens at the instant of salvation. Our sins are no longer and issue, they are washed clean. We are positionally sanctified at salvation.

James 4:8 NASB "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Our sins separate us from God: not eternally because we are already saved, but they separate us from God temporally, there is a break in the relationship. How do we draw near to God? "Cleanse your hands." This is the same word we have in 1 John 1:9, katharizo [kaqarizw]. James is writing to a Jewish audience and so when they hear the words "cleanse your hands," what are they thinking about? They are thinking about the operation of the priests coming into the temple or the tabernacle and washing their hands at the laver before they go into the presence of God. "…and purify your hearts." That is the issue, purification of what is going on mentally in terms of confession of sin and cleansing. Cleansing is for the purpose of forgiveness.

1 John 2:12 NASB "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake [because of His character]." What is John really getting at here in this verse? He is talking about grace. That is what underlies this. Forgiveness is a function of God's grace. The love of God motivated Him to provide a solution to man's problems through grace. This is what is emphasised in numerous passages in the Old Testament related to forgiveness. Exodus 34:6 NASB "Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth'." Four words in the Hebrew help us understand what is going on here. His compassion is the expression of grace and mercy; they are the expressions of God's love. Mercy and grace are always directed toward undeserving, fallen creatures. Grace means God's unmerited favour, His undeserved blessing. The reason mercy and compassion and grace are not part of the essence box is because they dependent upon fallen creatures, and no characteristic of God can be a primary attribute if it is creaturely dependent. He is "gracious," "slow to anger" (longsuffering), He waits a long time before He droops the boom on us. He is "abounding in lovingkindness," the Hebrew word chesed which means faithful and loyal to the object of His love. It is unconditional, God doesn't give up on us because we go into rebellion. [7] "who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…" He is a God of forgiveness and grace even in the Old Testament.

This is reiterated in numerous other passages. For example, Psalm 65:3 NASB "Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You forgive them." Psalm 79:9 NASB "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name's sake." Psalm 85:2 NASB "You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin." Psalm 86:5 NASB "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You." Psalm 130:4 NASB "But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared." Note: Motivation here is linked to the forgiveness of God. What should motivate us in the Christian life is the grace of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. That is what is to motivate us to learn about God. If we don't learn about God to know who God is then we are not motivated to obey Him. The core motivation in the spiritual life is understanding grace.

Isaiah 43:25 NASB "Is 43:25  "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake"…. The issue is God's character, not God's character… "And I will not remember your sins." If God is not going to remember our sins, why do we keep beating ourselves over the head because of our sins? Guilt is a sin in itself. This is reiterated in Psalm 103:12 NASB "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." They are no longer an issue. Once we confess them we need to forget them and move forward. We are forgiven whether we feel like it or not. Isai9ah 44:22 NASB "I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."

Every person is born with three strikes against him. They are: a) Adam's original sin. Adam was the designated head of the human race, our representative, our federal head. His was the sin that counted, not Eve; b) When we are born we are born with a sin nature. God at the instant of our birth imputes to our sin nature Adam's original sin, so that we are legally guilty of Adam's original sin. God knew that just as Adam made that choice each and every one of us put in the same position would have made the same choice. We are guilty because we have a sin nature; we are corrupt down to the very core of our being. We sin because we are sinners; we are not sinners because we sin. What that means is that we commit sins because we were born with a corrupt constitution, with a sin nature that affects every aspect of our thoughts, every aspect of who and what we are. Because we are born a sinner we then commit acts of personal sins. Our personal sin does not make us a sinner, we were a sinner because of our sin nature and Adam's original sin. When Jesus Christ died on the cross the first thing He had to deal with was the effect of Adam's original sin and that sin nature. And secondarily, personal sin. Personal sin is the consequence of the first two. When Christ died on the cross Adam's original sin is dealt with, the sin nature is dealt with, and there is forgiveness. The slate is wiped clean; we are declared righteous; we are imputed the righteousness of Christ, and we are forgiven. Also, all sin from the point of birth up to the point that we trust Christ as our Saviour are forgiven. So that is what we will call forgiveness1.

But what about all those sins that come after salvation, our post-salvation sins. Because of what Christ did on the cross the penalty for those sins is paid for, but the issue is cleansing. In Isaiah 6 we get a picture of the throne of God, and Isaiah comes before the throne and says: "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips." And one of the cherubim picks up a hot coal and brings it and puts it on his lips as a sign that he needed to be cleansed. Isaiah was already saved but there needed to be purification before he could come into the presence of God. Post-salvation sin breaks fellowship with God. We have been forgiven with forgiveness1 at salvation but there has to be ongoing forgiveness for post-salvation sins. A good verse for forgiveness at salvation is Acts 10:43 NASB "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." John 13 pictures the post-salvation forgiveness. It is based on the grace of God and that is what John is reminding us of in verse 12.

Starting in verse 12 John is going to explain his purpose, and he is going to address it to different elements in the congregation. We have seen that the whole congregation is referred to as teknion [teknion], children, but then they are subdivided into three groups depending on spiritual maturity. They are called fathers, pater [pathr], in v.13; "young men," neaniskoi [neaniskoi]; "children", paidia [paidia]. So there are three different groups and they are going to demonstrate different levels of spiritual advance.

Verse 13 introduces the three categories. NASB "I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father." Then in verse 14 he is going to come back to the fathers and say the same thing he said to them the first time. NASB "I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning…" Notice, the fathers are mature. They don't need to be warned again about false doctrine or deception or getting involved in sin because they had moved to a higher level of spiritual maturity. Then he addresses the young men, the neaniskoi: "I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." When does he mention children again? Verse 18 NASB "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour." This is not little children, not teknon, but children paidia. He slows down. He has written to the fathers who have reached maturity and gone through all of the basic testing that they encountered as young babes, have gone through the stage of spiritual adolescence, and have finally arrived at spiritual maturity. He doesn't have a whole lot to say to them, but he has a lot to say to those who are spiritual adolescents and that is the focus of from vv. 14b through 17. And then he addresses his children, the immature believer, from 18 down through 27. The problem that they both face has to do with the cosmic system.

God has provided us with a soul fortress, a place of refuge, and in that place of refuge is the place of living the spiritual life. The bricks that make up the walls of this fortress are the spiritual skills that we learn in our advance in the spiritual life.

In spiritual childhood there are five basic skills. The first is 1 John 1:9, learning to keep short accounts with God, confessing our sin every time we sin, and the result is the filling of the Holy Spirit. But it is not just the filling of the Holy Spirit, it is walking by the Holy Spirit. That is the command of Galatians 5:16. So the drill is to learn how to walk by means of the Spirit and that is done on the basis of the filling of the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18. The third technique is the faith-rest drill. This starts with mixing faith with the promises of God and then moves to using doctrinal rationales and reaching doctrinal conclusions. Then there is grace orientation, understanding that everything is based on God's grace and who and what He is, not who and what we are. That has implications for humility: it's not me it is God, so I have to learn humility. And as I learn humility then I begin to be oriented to life correctly. Then I learn doctrine and begin to have my thinking shaped by the Word of God and become oriented to reality by the Word of God, and that lays the ground work for everything else in the spiritual life. We have to master these five skills or we won't go anywhere in the spiritual life.

The next stage is spiritual adolescence, coming to grips with where we are going. That this is the training ground for eternity; it is developing a sense of eternal destiny where we make decisions today based on the future.

Then we move into spiritual adulthood, where we are called "adult sons" in Romans 14. The first three skills we work on have to do with love: a personal love for God, Romans 5:5; impersonal love for all mankind, Galatians 5:14; occupation with Christ, Hebrews 12:2. We are focusing on Christ, learning to live as Christ lived, think as Christ thinks, and that is the love triplex. The consequence of all of that is that it brings stability into our souls, tranquillity to our thinking, so that we can relax and have the life that Christ has bequeathed to us so that we can fulfil the mandate of James 1:2-4 NASB "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have {its} perfect result…" These are the bricks that protect our souls.

Psalm 3:3 NASB "But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head."

Psalm 31:3 NASB "For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me."

Psalm 71:3 NASB "Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come; You have given commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress."

Psalm 91:2 NASB "I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!'"

Psalm 18:2 NASB "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

Psalm 18:30 NASB "As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him."

Psalm 28:7 NASB "The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him."

Psalm 35:2 NASB "Take hold of buckler and shield And rise up for my help."

Psalm 91:4 NASB "He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark."

Psalm 115:9 NASB "O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield."

Psalm 119:114 NASB "You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word."

Psalm 144:2 NASB "My lovingkindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer, My shield and He in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me."

This is the soul fortress, but when we sin we go outside of that into enemy territory, the cosmic system; and John warns the young men about this, starting in 1 John 2:15 NASB "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."